Proposition A, an Austin ballot proposal for the Nov. 2 election backed by the group Save Austin Now, would require at least two Austin police officers for every 1,000 residents and would provide officers with an additional 40 hours of police training each year on topics such as weapons proficiency and active shooter scenarios.
According to financial records reviewed by Fox News, Soros’ Open Society Policy Center last week donated $ 500,000 to Equity Austin, a group that is working to defeat Proposition A.
“It sickens me that out of town billionaires are able to swoop into Austin to fight against citizen-led ballot initiatives,” Austin City Council member Mackenzie Kelly said in a statement to Fox News. “The purpose of our city’s charter is to allow regular, everyday people to fight for what they believe in when the city council fails them.”
The co-founders of Save Austin Now used the Soros opposition as a fundraising point with supporters.
“Massive out-of-state funding for our opponents show two things: That Austin donors won’t fund the anti-Prop A campaign and that the stakes in this effort to restore public safety to Austin could not be higher,” Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek said in a joint statement. “We are now going to fight twice as hard and we hope all our supporters will as well.”
In the wake of the George Floyd protests last year, the Austin City Council voted to cut up to $ 150 million from its police department budget – a little more than a third of its total budget – and reinvest that money into other public services. The department was partially refunded earlier this year, but not all of the units that were cut came back.
Meanwhile, Austin has seen a steep rise in homicides over the past year, and, due to police staffing shortages, residents are being encouraged to call 311 instead of 911 to report nonemergencies.